CTV: Debate over Taser use rages after death

160_quilem_registre_071018The debate over the use of Tasers in this country is raging even louder after the death of a Montreal man, who became the second person to die after being subdued with the weapon.

Quilem Registre (l), 39, became the second person to die in Canada in the past week in connection with a police Taser incident.

Montreal police had stopped Registre on Sunday night after spotting him driving erratically. Kahane said Registre had rammed his car into several other vehicles.

Police have said they believe he was intoxicated, and that he became aggressive during questioning and resisted arrest.

Officers at the scene used a Taser on him, which shoots an electrical charge through the person’s body of about 50,000 volts.

The man was taken to hospital for an examination. On Monday, his condition deteriorated. Registre died overnight Wednesday of liver and heart failure.

« It’s as if he was hit by lightning, » his sister told CTV News, adding that she was told he was hit six times.

Registre’s family has hired a lawyer and plans to sue police.

« He was not threatening anybody. He was alone without nothing in his hand, » the family’s lawyer Claude F. Archambault said.

But Registre’s family won’t be suing the company that makes the Taser. The company has been sued dozens of times and no one has ever won.

« We’re 59 and 0 in court. That’s a great record right there because we can get rid of the junk science in a courtroom setting, » Steve Tuttle, vice-president of TASER International Inc. told CTV Newsnet.

Registre’s death comes days after another man passed away after police used a Taser to subdue him.

In Vancouver on Sunday, a police used a Taser on a distraught man who had arrived from Poland. He died within minutes.

Robert Dziekanski, 40, of Pieszyce, Poland, had flown to B.C. to finally join his mother, Zosia Cisowski.

She had worked two jobs for seven years to earn the money to bring him over.

Dziekanski allegedly went out of control, but Cisowski said he was likely just frustrated because he only spoke Polish.

At least one witness claims Dziekanski smelled of liquor.

Officials have said there is no obvious cause for the man’s death. A toxicology examination will be conducted on Dziekanski’s body.

Since 2003, at least 17 Canadians have died in connection with police Taser incidents.

With two deaths in one week, criticism over Taser use landed on Parliament Hill.

« Canadians need answers. They need reassurance that the use of Tasers is not routine procedure, » said Vancouver MP Hedy Fry.

Amnesty International’s Hillary Homes says she wants Tasers pulled out of service « until there really is a rigorous, independent, and multi-disciplinary study into their use and effects. »

Police say the alternative to the Taser is worse.

« If you don’t have that Taser gun, you’re going to have to use your handgun, » said the Quebec municipal police federation’s president Denis Cote.

In the U.S. where more than 150 people have died, the controversy has been raging for years. There have also been numerous cases of Tasers used repeatedly when it wasn’t warranted.

When Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida got its Tasers a few years ago, the sheriff gladly conducted the demonstration.

A year later, Jacksonville police temporarily pulled them out of service, and so did several other cities over safety concerns.

But in the past year, the Taser has made a remarkable comeback south of the border. Sales are up 60 per cent and those police forces that had stopping using them are stocking up again.

On this side of the border, Ottawa has asked the RCMP to review how Tasers are being used.

« I’m waiting for the review that’s presently underway by the RCMP of how extensive the use is, and are there any things that need to be moderated in the program, » Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said Thursday.

Tuttle said the company stands behind the product as it is the safer alternative to a baton, canine bites, or even a physical tackle.

« In every case in Canada we’ve been cleared and completely exonerated by medical examiners and the experts including the Canadian Police Research Centre, as well, that’s done research, » Tuttle said.

He also dismissed criticism that there was not enough independent testing of the technology.

« There are over 3,000 pages of research on our systems and technology as well as just a recent report that came out last Monday from wake forest university in the Carolinas in the united states, » Tuttle said.

« It showed 99.7 per cent of the subjects that were encountering a Taser application did not receive an injury, » he said.

[Original article, including video, is linked HERE.]

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